Two days ago, I spoke with a representative from DigiTrax (they operate KaraokeCloudPro.com) to get some clarification on the Vetted KJ program. It cleared up a few things for me, raised a couple more questions that I have since decided aren’t important, and made up my mind on what to do about certifying my Chartbuster CD+G collection.
Here is a little recap to make sure everyone is on the same page –
Chartbuster Karaoke produced karaoke CD+G’s for something close to 20 years. They also produced memory stick and hard drive based collections of their karaoke library toward the end of their life. Chartbuster ceased production early in 2012.
DigiTrax Entertainment aka The Karaoke Cloud obtained the rights to reproduce a large portion of the Chartbuster Karaoke catalog. Much of the older content that is on Karaoke Cloud is actually re-branded Chartbuster content. New releases over the past year or so are new tracks produced for Karaoke Cloud.
Piracy Recovery, LLC is responsible for protecting the copyrights and trademarks the Chartbuster Karaoke brand (and to the best of my knowledge, the Karaoke Cloud brand).
Here are the important parts of my conversation with DigiTrax –
There is an audit program available to KJ’s who have a collection of Chartbuster Discs. The audit is voluntary and has no length of term. In other words, unlike the current Sound Choice audit and the former Chartbuster Audits, both of which certified for a term of 1 year, the new audit of Chartbuster material states something like this – “On this date, xx/xx/xxxx we certify that this digital library meets 1-1 compliance with CD+G’s”.
This makes sense in my opinion because once the audit is complete, it is a matter of a few key-strokes on a computer to start downloading karaoke via Torrents, iRC, and other pirate sites. I know there are pirates out there that try to borrow discs for audits only to give them back afterwards (I was approached by a local pirate to do exactly this just after I received my Sound Choice certification). So I am perfectly fine with the change of the wording.
But, Piracy Recovery doesn’t appear to be interested in media-shifters that are 1-1 compliant (ie; those that own their discs and have a 1-1 ratio of CD+G tracks to computer based tracks). I don’t know how they confirm people are 1-1 without an audit and I think it leaves a gaping whole for pirates to leverage, but so long as they aren’t specifically targeting media-shifters, I am again fine with the policy.
This, by the way, is different from Sound Choice policy which requires you to have permission from them (usually in the form of an audit) to media-shift at all.
Ultimately, if you do decide to go through a Chartbuster Audit, you receive a “point-in-time” certification, but you do NOT become a Vetted KJ.
To become a Vetted KJ (must have a Google account to view), you have to be a subscriber to the Karaoke Cloud or the Hits of the Month cloud subscriptions. This is not a vetted KJ list as much as a public list of subscribers. It will be interesting to see if they continue to leave this list public since it gives some indication to how many subscribers they have.
This means either a $99/mo subscription to the all inclusive Karaoke Cloud (and potentially more up front costs since there are a limited number of karaoke hosting programs that work with the Karaoke Cloud Service)
Subscribing to Hits of the Month which I could not find a subscription price for. The current August Hits for Country is $14.99 for 10 tracks and another $14.99 for the August Pop/Rock/R&B collection (also 10 tracks). I can’t say definitively what the cost of subscribing to the Hits of the Month would be because I don’t know if they require you do one or the other other or both. Let’s call it somewhere between $15 and $30/mo.
I don’t particularly agree with requiring a subscription to be a Vetted KJ for two reasons –
1) The Karaoke Cloud is really only a good deal for multi-riggers (which are fewer in number than single rig hosts) and new hosts just getting into the business. Long time single rig karaoke hosts that have invested thousands of dollars in Chartbuster material on CD+G have no reason to subscribe to the Karaoke Cloud. Even newer hosts can buy Chartbuster content at bargain basement prices on eBay. They have most of not all of those tracks already on the Cloud. Not to mention those that invested thousands of dollars in the Chartbuster 600+/12000+ hard drives that were sold near the end of Chartbuster’s life. The hard drive buyers are easy to vet – our names and a serial number are printed on the drives.
My two Chartbuster 12000+ drives
2) The Hits of the Month are anything but. Personally, I spend more than $50/mo for new music by buying individual tracks. This is 1/2 or more of a Karaoke Cloud Subscription and may $20-40 more than the Hits of the Month, But I also know that I am buying exactly the requested songs and getting my money’s worth from them. The Monthly Hits subscription means you are at the mercy of the Karaoke Cloud and what they deliver each month. The music may or may not be what your audience wants to sing. I may be spending more, but every song I buy is getting sung.
So even though I own >1000 original Chartbuster Karaoke CD+G discs and own 2 Chartbuster 12000+ drives, I can’t be qualified as a Vetted KJ without signing up for music that I don’t really want or need. even if I paid for an audit of my Chartbuster Karaoke discs, I would still not be “vetted”. There are a LOT of karaoke hosts out there in my same position.
At the end of this, I currently have no plans to do an audit of my Chartbuster Discs. I just don’t see the value in doing so. The Sound Choice process protects you from legal action so long as you play by the rules -AND- in theory, has a suppressing effect on piracy of at least Sound Choice content. Doing a Chartbuster audit results only in the KJ receiving a piece of paper saying “As of this date you were A-OK but beyond that we don’t know or seem to care”. I did not ask if doing a Chartbuster disc audit provided a “covenant not to sue” or any other legal protections, but it was implied that Piracy Recovery, LLC was not interested in 1-1 compliant media-shifters, only true pirates. If that is the case, I can easily demonstrate 1-1 compliance in the unlikely event I am ever named.
So there you have it. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney or an intellectual property expert. I encourage you to speak to an attorney that work in intellectual property if you have questions.
It has been a long while now since I have posted to my blog. I keep telling myself to be more active and then something else gets in the way.
Today I ran across something that I feel deserves a little more attention.
If you were previously Chartbuster Certified and/or purchase downloads from KaraokeCloud.com – this is the outfit that enforces copyright/trademark for Chartbuster and Digitrax material.
They are filing suits against KJ’s and venues. I have not seen any action in the Northwest yet, but they appear to be actively “vetting” venues and KJ’s in some areas. They have a “Vetted KJ’s” list and I have asked them to contact me so I can find out how to go about getting “vetted”. Unfortunately, they are hosting the list on Google Docs forcing you to sign up for a Google account to view the list.
I find it a little disturbing that I have not been contacted by Piracy Recovery, LLC given how vocal I am in my local community as well as a global karaoke forum where Piracy Recovery is almost certainly monitoring posts. In fact, many other hosts I know that were formerly certified by Chartbuster through an audit or who purchased Chartbuster 6000+/12000+ are not on their list. Again, some of us a pretty vocal and I am confident they know exactly who we are.
The karaoke industry needs some positive action to take place outside of the venues where hard working hosts promote having a great time. It would seem to me that Piracy Recovery would jump through hoops to get a hold of people that are anti-piracy *and* have demonstrated their willingness to be pro-active about audits, certifications and other means of showing they are operating above board. The likes of Sound Choice and Piracy Recovery need people on their side to help temper the negative reactions that have and will encounter.
Don’t ignore the people that are on your side.